The “best” stereo receiver for your car isn’t necessarily the loudest or most expensive. Rather, it’s the one that best allows you to control your in-drive experience. For that reason, you may want to start the selection process by determining what you want your new receiver to do.
Do you want to play CDs, stream music wirelessly, or connect and control your phone, tablet or music player? Is satellite or HD Radio important to you? Do you want GPS capability? You could also consider rear-camera connectivity or the ability to play DVDs for your passengers.
Be sure to determine the dimensions of the dashboard opening where your new receiver will reside. If the opening is too large, installation adapters can be added to provide a snug fit. You’ll also want to identify your power needs. You want enough power to maximize your speakers, but not so much as to cause distortion. While peak power wattage is often listed, you’ll want to focus on the average power output during normal use, sometimes noted as RMS.
Stereo Receiver Features
Supported Media: Many of today's car stereo receivers can wirelessly connect through Bluetooth to your smartphone to play music from your library, stream Internet radio, make hands-free calls and access your favorite apps. Wired connections for your MP3 player or iPod can also be made through USB or AUX ports.
Satellite and HD Radio: Some receivers come equipped with built-in satellite radio, HD Radio or both. If the receiver is marked "ready" for HD Radio or satellite radio, you'll be able to access these features by buying and installing additional hardware.
GPS: Some car stereo receivers double as in-dash GPS receivers, providing a multitude of navigation and driving benefits. If GPS is built-in, you’re good to go, while if it’s “GPS-ready,” you will need to purchase additional hardware to connect with the receiver.
Digital Media Receivers
With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you can connect your smartphone to a digital media receiver to see everything you need right on your car display. Hands-free voice control lets you keep your eyes on the road while you listen to music or podcasts, hear text messages, navigate to your destination and more.